Amendment to the CTBT on the Advice and Consent of the
Senate on the Six Safeguards Proposed by the President
Remarks by Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE)
Congressional Record - 106th Congress,
October 12, 1999
Mr. BIDEN. Parliamentary inquiry: How much time is under the control of the Senator from Delaware?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Twenty minutes.
Mr. BIDEN. Is there time on the amendment once the amendment is called up?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. There will be 4 hours equally divided on each of the two amendments that may be called up.
Mr. BIDEN. One last parliamentary inquiry. Am I able to call up the Democratic leader's amendment now, and would the time begin to run on that amendment now?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator may proceed.
AMENDMENT NO. 2291
(PURPOSE: TO CONDITION THE ADVICE AND CONSENT OF THE SENATE ON THE SIX SAFEGUARDS PROPOSED BY THE PRESIDENT)
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, on behalf of the Democratic leader, I call up amendment No. 2291.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
The legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Delaware (Mr. Biden), for Mr. Daschle, proposes an amendment numbered 2291.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The amendment is as follows:
Strike all after the resolved clause and insert the following:
SECTION 1. SENATE ADVICE AND CONSENT SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS.
The Senate advises and consents to the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, opened for signature and signed by the United States at New York on September 24, 1996, including the following annexes and associated documents, all such documents being integral parts of and collectively referred to in this resolution as the `Treaty,' (contained in Senate Treaty document 105-28), subject to the conditions in section 2:
(1) Annex 1 to the Treaty entitled `List of States Pursuant to Article II, Paragraph 28'.
(2) Annex 2 to the Treaty entitled `List of States Pursuant to Article XIV'.
(3) Protocol to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.
(4) Annex 1 to the Protocol.
(5) Annex 2 to the Protocol.
SEC. 2. CONDITIONS.
The advice and consent of the Senate to the ratification of the Treaty is subject to the following conditions, which shall be binding upon the President:
(1) Stockpile Stewardship Program.--The United States shall conduct a science-based Stockpile Stewardship program to ensure that a high level of confidence in the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons in the active stockpile is maintained, including the conduct of a broad range of effective and continuing experimental programs.
(2) Nuclear laboratory facilities and programs.--The United States shall maintain modern nuclear laboratory facilities and programs in theoretical and exploratory nuclear technology that are designed to attract, retain, and ensure the continued application of human scientific resources to those programs on which continued progress in nuclear technology depends. (3) Maintenance of nuclear testing capability.--The United States shall maintain the basic capability to resume nuclear test activities prohibited by the Treaty in the event that the United States ceases to be obligated to adhere to the Treaty.
(4) Continuation of a comprehensive research and development program.--The United States shall continue its comprehensive research and development program to improve its capabilities and operations for monitoring the Treaty.
(5) Intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities.--The United States shall continue its development of a broad range of intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities and operations to ensure accurate and comprehensive information on worldwide nuclear arsenals, nuclear weapons development programs, and related nuclear programs.
(6) Withdrawal under the `supreme interests' clause.--
(A) Safety and reliability of the u.s. nuclear deterrent; policy.--The United States--
(i) regards continued high confidence in the safety and reliability of its nuclear weapons stockpile as a matter affecting the supreme interests of the United States; and
(ii) will regard any events calling that confidence into question as `extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the Treaty' under Article IX(2) of the Treaty.
(B) Certification by secretary of defense and secretary of energy.--Not later than December 31 of each year, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy, after receiving the advice of--
(i) the Nuclear Weapons Council (comprised of representatives of the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Department of Energy),
(ii) the Directors of the nuclear weapons laboratories of the Department of Energy, and
(iii) the Commander of the United States Strategic Command, shall certify to the President whether the United States nuclear weapons stockpile and all critical elements thereof are, to a high degree of confidence, safe and reliable. Such certification shall be forwarded by the President to Congress not later than 30 days after submission to the President.
(C) Recommendation whether to resume nuclear testing.--If, in any calendar year, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy cannot make the certification required by subparagraph (B), then the Secretaries shall recommend to the President whether, in their opinion (with the advice of the Nuclear Weapons Council, the Directors of the nuclear weapons laboratories of the Department of Energy, and the Commander of the United States Strategic Command), nuclear testing is necessary to assure, with a high degree of confidence, the safety and reliability of the United States nuclear weapons stockpile.
(D) Written certification; minority views.--In making the certification under subparagraph (B) and the recommendations under subparagraph (C), the Secretaries shall state the reasons for their conclusions, and the views of the Nuclear Weapons Council, the Directors of the nuclear weapons laboratories of the Department of Energy, and the Commander of the United States Strategic Command, and shall provide any minority views.
(E) Withdrawal from the treaty.--If the President determines that nuclear testing is necessary to assure, with a high degree of confidence, the safety and reliability of the United States nuclear weapons stockpile, the President shall consult promptly with the Senate and withdraw from the Treaty pursuant to Article IX(2) of the Treaty in order to conduct whatever testing might be required.
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Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, to put this in context, one of the unfortunate ways in which this debate has developed, in my view, on this very important treaty is that the President of the United States when he put his signature on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty attached to it a number of conditions when he referred the treaty to the Senate. He sent up, along with the treaty, a total of six conditions that he said he wanted added to the treaty before we ratified the treaty. As we all know, in previous arms control agreements, it has been our practice in the Senate to add conditions to treaties. When it was agreed that we were given essentially an ultimatum that if we wanted to debate this treaty at all, we had to agree to the following time constraints.
I was under the impression that the starting point for this debate would be what the President said he wanted, which was he wanted us to ratify the treaty itself and the six conditions. I found out later it was only the treaty.
Although we were entitled to an amendment on each side, the Democratic side, or in this case the Democratic leader's amendment would have to be what the President said he wanted as part of the package to begin with in order to be for the treaty.
Usually what has happened, as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee knows, we debated at length, for instance the treaty on the Chemical Weapons Convention we had extensive hearings in the Foreign Relations Committee. The outcome of those hearings was that we voted on, or agreed upon, or we negotiated a number of conditions. There were 28 conditions before we brought it to the Senate floor.
That is the usual process. But since we didn't have the first formal hearing on this treaty until after it was discharged--that is a fancy word for saying we no longer had any jurisdiction--and it was sent to the floor, here we are in the dubious position of having to use 2 hours on the one amendment we have available to us, an amendment to ask that the President's whole package be considered. That is where we are.
The amendment that has been submitted by the Democratic leader contains six conditions that corresponded to the six conditions that the President of the United States said were needed in order for him to be secure with the Senate ratifying this treaty.
These conditions were developed in 1995 before the United States signed the treaty. They were critical to the decision by the executive branch to seek the test ban treaty in which the standard would be a zero yield; that is, zero yield resulting from an uncontrolled chain react--a nuclear explosion.
We in turn think it is critical that in providing the advice and consent to this treaty, the Senate codify these six safeguards that the President of the United States said were conditions to the Resolution of Ratification. Let me explain why.
The safeguards were announced by President Clinton in August of 1995. They were merely statements of policy by the President, and there is no way for President Clinton to bind future Presidents with such statements. However, we can.
Conditions in a Resolution of Ratification, by contrast--which is what I am proposing now--are binding upon all future Presidents. Therefore, approval of these conditions will lock them in for all time, so that any future President or future Congress, long after we are gone, will understand that these safeguards are essential to our continued participation in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Administration witnesses who testified before the Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee underscored the importance of these safeguards during the Senate hearings last week. I suspect that is why our Republican friends didn't allow Members to bring these up as part of the original instruments. So we started off as we would had it come out of committee, with the actual treaty, plus the conditions attached. I expect the reason they didn't want this side to do that is it would strengthen the hands of those who were for the treaty.
I understand the tactical move, but I think it is unfortunate because, as we all know, the witnesses who testified from the administration, others from the laboratories, and others who were with the laboratories and were in former administrations, all those people who testified underscored the importance of these safeguards. In other words, they didn't want the treaty without these safeguards.
During the testimony before the Armed Services Committee, Dr. Paul Robinson, Director of Sandia Laboratory, testified: The President's six safeguards should be formalized in the resolution of ratification.
General Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated:
The Joint Chiefs support ratification of CTBT with the safeguards package.
Of the six conditions, the first, the third, and the last are interrelated and probably the most important. The first condition relates to the Stockpile Stewardship Program. Anyone who has listened to this debate now understands what that is. The Stockpile Stewardship Program will be essential to ensuring the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons in the future. It requires this condition: That the United States shall conduct a science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program to ensure a high level of confidence in the safety and the reliability of nuclear weapons in our active stockpile.
As we have all heard over the course of this debate, this Stockpile Stewardship Program is a 10-year, $45 billion, or $4.5 billion-a-year, project that is designed to maintain the nuclear stockpile, and it will involve cutting-edge science, as it
already has. It is already underway, and the Directors of the three National Laboratories have testified they believe they can maintain the stockpile of our nuclear weapons if the funding is provided.
Already there have been difficulties, particularly in the other body, in securing this level of funding. This first condition our amendment contains will assure that the funding will be there. The third condition which is in the amendment before the Senate requires that the United States `maintain the basic capability to resume nuclear test activities prohibited by the treaty in the event that the United States ceases to be obliged to adhere to the committee.' That means countries have to have a place to test the weapons underground.
We could let our underground test facilities go to seed and not maintain them, so that when the time came that we ever did have to pull out of this treaty, we would not be prepared to be able to resume testing. So we say as a further safeguard against the remote possibility that we will not be able to, through the Stockpile Stewardship Program, guarantee the reliability and safety of our weapons, a condition of the United States staying in this treaty is that the Congress appropriate the money and the President and future Presidents use the money to maintain the facilities necessary to be able to resume this testing if that event occurs.
The effort to maintain this capacity is also well underway, I might add. It is also tied to the Stockpile Stewardship Program. Subcritical experiments--and we use certain phrases so much around here, sometimes it is easy to forget that most Members don't have nuclear weapons as their primary responsibility, and people listening on C-SPAN or the press aren't--although many are--required to spend time to know what certain phrases mean. A subcritical experiment means a country can set off an explosion that doesn't start a chain reaction. It only becomes critical when there is a chain reaction, which makes it a nuclear explosion. Subcritical means before the rods go banging into the plutonium and something is started. That is a chain reaction.
The subcritical experiments at the Nevada Test Site, which are a vital part of our stockpile stewardship, also enable test site personnel to keep and hone their skills and practice the procedures for actual nuclear weapons tests. Translated, that means we have specialized scientists who in the past have participated in the over 1,000 nuclear detonations we have used over the history of our program, and that without having detonated a nuclear explosion since 1992, these skilled scientists still keep their skills honed by going into this test site facility and doing subcritical tests; for example, using uranium instead of plutonium or performing other tests that don't require a nuclear explosion.
We are not only maintaining the capability of being able to do a nuclear explosion; we are maintaining the necessary personnel. The fact that subcritical experiments are scientifically valid and challenging also serves to make work at the test site worthwhile and attractive to skilled personnel. The reason I bother to mention that, in an argument against the treaty by one of the scientists who testified, I think before Senator Helms' and my committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, he said: We really like to make things go boom. He said: I'm a scientist; I like to make them go to the end of the
experiment. I like to conduct them that way. But I can do it without making them go boom.
What people worry about now, if you are not going to `make 'em go boom,' if you are not going to explode them, some will say scientists won't want to be involved in that; it is not as exciting as if they could actually test. That is an argument that says we will lose a whole generation of nuclear scientists who know how to conduct these tests and know how to read them.
Other scientists come along and, with the laboratories, say: No, no, no; we can keep all the interest we need to keep in a group of young scientists who will replace the aging scientific community who have been performing the tests because we will do what we call subcritical tests at the sites where we used to do the critical tests.
Part of the agreement, part of the understanding, the requirement, is these facilities have to be maintained as opposed to saying we have a treaty now, we will not do nuclear explosions, so why spend the money on maintaining these facilities?
The answer is: To keep scientists interested and to bring a whole new next generation of brain power into this area so they will have something they believe is worthwhile to do, as opposed to them going out and inventing new widgets, or deciding they are going to develop a commercial product or something. That is one of the legitimate concerns.
The second concern has been: Once you pass this treaty, you know what you are going to do; you are going to stop funding the hundreds of millions of dollars it takes over time to maintain this place to be able to explode a nuclear weapon if we need to.
We said: Do not worry about that; we are going to pass a treaty, and we commit to spend money to continue to do it. If we do not, it is a condition not met and the President can leave the treaty. That is the third condition.
The sixth condition is a failsafe mechanism, available to future Presidents in case the critics of the stockpile program turn out to be right. Again, I might point out the critics of the stockpile program, including my good friend, and he is my good friend, are the very ones who have great faith in the Star Wars notion, great faith in the ability to put this nuclear umbrella over the United States so not a single nuclear weapon could penetrate and blow up and kill 5, 10, 20 million Americans. They have faith in that scientific capability, whether it is laser-based space weapons or whether it is land-based systems. But they do not have faith in the ability to be able to test a weapon that has not been exploded.
I understand that. It is a bit of a non sequitur for me to suggest you can have faith in one and not the other. I point out, as a nonscientist, as a plain old lawyer, it seems to me it takes a lot more to guarantee if somebody flies 2, 10, 20, 50,
100 nuclear weapons at the United States, you will be able to pick them all out of the sky before they blow up and America will be held harmless, than it would be to determine the reliability of this bomb you take out of a missile, sit on a table at a test site, and test whether or not it still works or not without exploding it. One seems more complicated than the other to me. But maybe not. At any rate, after spending $45 billion and all this scientific know-how, we have to continue to be able to guarantee the reliability of our weapons. We have a sixth condition.
Article IX of the treaty, I remind everyone, contains a standard withdrawal clause. I am talking not about the condition; I am talking about the treaty itself now. Article IX has a standard withdrawal clause, permitting any party who signs the treaty the right to withdraw 6 months after giving notice; that is, start testing.
We could ratify this tomorrow. We still have to wait for another 23 nations to ratify it, but we could reach the critical mass--no pun intended--where enough nations sign and the treaty is in effect, and 6 months after that the President of the United States says: I no longer think this is in the national interest of the United States of America. I am notifying you within 6 months we are going to start testing nuclear weapons and withdraw. That is what this article IX does. But what we do is, if the President--and this is a quote:
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. . . decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests[,]
--he can withdraw from the treaty.
Every year pursuant to the safeguard--I am back on the safeguards now--every year, we are saying, if this amendment is adopted, pursuant to safeguard 6, the National Laboratories' Directors at Las Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore, all three of them have to go to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy and certify that the Stockpile Stewardship Program is still working and they, the scientists at our three National Laboratories say: We certify the reliability and safety of our nuclear weapons.
The President, then, certifies to the Congress that there is a high degree of confidence in a safe and reliable stockpile.
If any one of those National Laboratory Directors--and there is a redundancy in what they check. By the way, do you know how it works now? The way it works now, we have nine deployed systems, nine different types of hydrogen bombs located in the bellies of airplanes, on cruise missiles, in the bellies of submarines, on longer range missiles, or in a silo somewhere in the United States of America. Every year these National Laboratory Directors go out and get 11 of these warheads from each of those nine deployed systems. They take them back to the laboratories and they dissect them, they open them up, they look at them--to overstate it--to see if there is any little corrosion there in the firing pin, that sort of thing. It is much more complicated, but they check it out.
They take one of them and they dissect it, similar to what a medical student does with a cadaver. They bring in 11 people, 10 of whom they give a thorough physical, the 11th they kill, cut up, and see if everything is working when they look inside. They do that now, and there is redundancy in the system. The three
laboratories do that.
Then they have to go to the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Defense and say: We can certify that our arsenal out there is reliable and safe.
But, if, under our condition 6, any one of those lab Directors says, `No, I don't think I can certify this year, I don't think I can do that,' then the Secretary of Energy has to be told that, and the Secretary of Energy, who is their immediate boss, has to then tell the President: No, no, we can't certify, Mr. President. And under No. 6, safeguard No. 6, the President shall consult with us and must withdraw from the treaty.
Let me read the exact language. It says this under E, page 5 of the amendment, `Withdrawal from the treaty.' `If the President determines,' and I just explained how he determines--if it is sent to him by the lab Directors and the Secretaries of Energy and Defense who say we can't certify:
. . . if the President determines that nuclear testing is necessary to assure with a high degree of confidence the safety and reliability of the United States nuclear weapons stockpile, the President shall consult promptly with the Senate and withdraw from the treaty pursuant to article IX.
He doesn't have a choice. He has to withdraw. That is the ultimate safeguard.
So for those over there who say if it turns out this Stockpile Stewardship Program doesn't work, they have to assume one of two things if that conclusion is reached. They have to assume the lab Directors are going to lie and they are going to lie to the Secretary of Energy. They are going to say: We can't verify this, we can't certify it, but we are going to do it anyway. They then have to assume the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy will say: Although we know we can't certify, we are going to lie to the President, and we are going to tell the President our nuclear stockpile is no longer reliable, but don't say anything, Mr. President.
And they have to assume, then, that the President, knowing that this stockpile is no longer reliable, would look at the U.S. Congress and say: I, President Whomever, next President, certify that we can rely on our stockpile. They either have to assume that or they have to assume their concern about our stockpile is not a problem because the moment the President is told that, he has to call us and tell us and withdraw from the treaty, which means he can begin nuclear testing.
Remember condition 3. We said you have to keep those big old places where they do the nuclear tests up to date. So he can begin to test.
So what is the big deal? What are we worried about, unless you assume future Presidents are going to lie to the American people, they are going to lie, they are going to say we can rely on this when we cannot?
At the end of the process, if the President determines resumption of testing is necessary, then he has to start testing. That is what section 6 says. So we put the world on notice that we have a program in place to maintain a reliable stockpile.
If that does not work and we need to test, we put the world on notice as well today that we will and are prepared, politically and in practical terms, to withdraw from this treaty. I should emphasize that the certification process, as I have said, is extremely rigorous: For 3 years running, the lab Directors have certified to the safety and reliability of our stockpile, but only after detailed review by thousands of people at our labs.
The other three conditions involve the need to maintain several key elements of our national infrastructure. They require us to maintain modern nuclear laboratory facilities and programs in theoretical and exploratory nuclear technology and infrastructure of equipment and personnel, if you will--that is required--the continuation of a robust research and development program for monitoring, and, finally, our amendment requires the development of a broad range of intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities and operations to ensure accurate information about nuclear programs around the world.
These six conditions should have been part of the treaty anyway, but they would not let us add them. We are going to add them now, with the grace of God and goodwill of our neighbors and 51 votes. These six conditions are essential to ratification of the treaty. If you do not want this treaty to work, then you will vote against this amendment.
I acknowledge if these safeguards are not there, nobody wants the treaty. The President does not want the treaty. The lab Directors do not want the treaty. No one wants the treaty. There may be others that would be useful to add or even necessary for ratification of the treaty, but the leadership has said we can only have one amendment.
They will recall that my own resolution, which led to this process, proposed only hearings and final adoption by March 31 of next year. I want to put that in focus. I see others want to speak, so I will yield, but I want to make it clear it has been said time and again on the floor by the leader himself--and I am sure he unintentionally misspoke--he said he received a letter from 45 Democratic Senators saying they wanted a vote.
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Mr. HELMS. I don't want the Senator to yield at an improper time----
Mr. BIDEN. I will finish this one point, and I will be delighted to yield the floor.
Mr. HELMS. I have been following the amendment.
Mr. BIDEN. I know the Senator has, and I appreciate that. I appreciate the respect he has shown for the efforts I have been making, notwithstanding we disagree on this considerably.
I want to make this closing point at this moment, and that is, it has been said by the Republican leader, Senator Lott, that 45 Senators demanded a vote on this treaty now. But 45 Senators signed a letter, including me. It was a Biden resolution--one that was about to be voted on when we were on another piece of legislation--that we have extensive hearings this year and that final action not occur until the end of March of next year, so everybody could have a chance to go through all of these hearings, so everybody could have a chance to debate what we are talking about at much greater length than today. There has not been the bipartisan negotiation on conditions to this Resolution of Ratification that usually occurs during consideration of treaties.
Mr. President, I see my friend from North Carolina is seeking recognition. I will be delighted to yield the floor to
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
Mr. HELMS. If the Senator will yield.
Mr. BIDEN. I will be delighted to.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, I compliment the Senator on the explanation of his amendment. I have been following him as he has been going along. We are far from being opposed to the amendment. We do not have any problem with the safeguards.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment No. 2291 be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, reserving the right to object--and I obviously do not want to object to my own amendment--we do have a time problem. I would be delighted to do that if the Senator would allow the remainder of the time on this amendment to be used on the Resolution of Ratification, so we do not use up--I have a number of Senators who wish to speak. That means I will only have 20 minutes left to debate this entire issue. I will be delighted to have it accepted. I probably have about an hour or 20 minutes or 30 minutes or 40 minutes left on the amendment; is that correct?
Parliamentary inquiry: How much time is left on the amendment?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Ninety-one minutes.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous-consent that the Senator's unanimous consent request be agreed to, with the condition that the remaining 91 minutes and the 2 hours remaining on the side of the Republican leadership be added to the time remaining on the Resolution of Ratification.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, I have no objection to that.
Mr. BIDEN. I have no objection to the unanimous consent request. I thank the Senator.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there an objection to the request of the Senator from North Carolina with the proposed modification?
Without objection, it is so ordered.
The amendment (No. 2291) was agreed to.